Sunday, November 6, 2011

Olio Fresca Pasta

I'm in love...

...with pasta from Olio Fresca, that is.

I have been making a point to visit the Strip District more often lately, and it was during one of these trips to the Pittsburgh Public Market that I discovered the little stand selling flavored pasta:

The Olio Fresca Stand at the Pittsburgh Public Market
Olio Fresca

Customers are invited to try them by tearing off small pieces of the dried pasta and eating it as is.  At $8 per pound, the flavored pasta is a bit of a splurge, but the selection was intriguing I just couldn't resist.  On my first visit, I took home two varieties of the pasta: the Szechuan Orange Linguine and the Wild Mushroom Linguine.

Because the pasta is already flavored, it is entirely possible to simply add olive oil and/or herbs for a quick meal.  Really quick, in fact, because the pasta takes only about 2-4 minutes to cook.  Personally, I prefer my pasta with more toppings.  But in the kitchen I'm a bit helpless if I don't have an existing recipe to follow. So...what to do?  I tried my best to slap together ingredients I already had with additional ones I thought would complement each pasta flavor.

Szechuan Orange Linguine

I prepared the Szechuan Orange Linguine (1 lb.) with a pound of shrimp, some broccoli, about 25 cherry tomatoes, and some crushed red pepper for a little heat.  With the parsley I have growing at home, I added some as garnish.  This yielded about 4-5 servings.  This ended up being pretty good, but could maybe use a little bit of a citrusy sauce to bring out more of the orange flavor.

Olio Fresca's Szechuan Orange Linguine
Szechuan Orange Linguine

Wild Mushroom Linguine

For the Wild Mushroom Linguine (1 lb.), I decided to go vegetarian and added sliced portabello mushrooms, onions, and about a 1/4 cup of homemade pesto.  There was probably more in there that I can't remember now, but these were the basic ingredients I used.  Pesto + mushroom = good!

Olio Fresca's Wild Mushroom Linguine
Wild Mushroom Linguine

I went back to the Market soon after for more.  This time, I picked up some Lemon Pepper Linguine and Sweet Potato Fettuccine.  This time, I also resolved to make better notes on how I prepared them.

Lemon Pepper Linguine

Olio Fresca's Lemon Pepper Linguine
Lemon Pepper Linguine

For the Lemon Pepper Linguine, the ingredients I used were as follows (for 1 lb of pasta):

roasted pork tenderloin
12 oz pkg cherry tomatoes
2 tsp capers
chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup or so white wine
1/2 tbsp pesto
chopped basil
olive oil
splash of fresh lemon juice

Some of these ingredients were leftover from when I made the Chicken Meuniere with Tomato and Parsley Sauce (capers, olives, white wine) so I made a similar sauce with them adding tomatoes first cooked in olive oil, as well as basil, pesto, and a splash of fresh lemon juice.  Then I topped it up with pork tenderloin seasoned with pepper and oven-roasted to 160 degrees. This was a great combo.

Sweet Potato Fettuccine

Olio Fresca's Sweet Potato Fettuccine
Sweet Potato Fettuccine

Finally, I tried the Sweet Potato Fettuccine (also 1 lb.), which I thought would benefit from adding fall flavors like apples and pumpkin pie spice:

2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon, additional for seasoning
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 lb chicken tenders, cubed
splash of lemon juice
splash of white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 tbsp grated pecorino cheese
basil and parsley

(Yes, I made even better notes this time!)

For the apples, I borrowed a technique I learned from this Curried Apple Couscous recipe.  I melted 1 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet along with the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in medium high heat.  I then added the apples until they are cooked tender, and set them aside.  Using the same skillet, I heated up the remaining 1 tbsp of butter, seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and cinnamon, and added them to the skillet, cooking them until done.

Then I added the heavy cream, cheese, splash of lemon juice, splash of white wine, basil, parsley, and seasoned everything with additional cinnamon to taste.  Once the sauce is heated through, I tossed in the cooked apples, and served it with the cooked sweet potato fettuccine.

All four varieties of pasta were delicious and all four of my own recipes turned out to be at least above average; most were actually excellent.  (My favorite of the four was the sweet potato fettuccine.)  Maybe I'm actually better at recipe creation than I give myself credit for, but I also think that these all turned out so well because the pasta themselves were great to begin with.  Thanks, Olio Fresca!  I will be back for more!

Update:  As of January 2012, Olio Fresca no longer sells pasta in the Pittsburgh Public Market.  To purchase Olio Fresca pasta, check out their website for currently available products.  For other recipes, look here.

Olio Fresca
Pittsburgh Public Market